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Nepal’s Legislative Strides to Combat Human Trafficking: Aligning with the Palermo Protocol

Program Year: 2024

As part of the United Nations Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime, The Palermo Protocol is the first legal document to provide an internationally recognized definition of human trafficking. It serves as a crucial tool for identifying victims and detecting various forms of exploitation that constitute human trafficking.

While Nepal ratified the Palermo Protocol in June 2020, its domestication in the current legislation remains delayed. Supported by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Australia, our Prevention of Human Trafficking through Strengthened Legislation project conducts evidence-based advocacy consultations with the local level government to amend current national legislation to better align with the Palermo Protocol. The project ensures that line ministries: Ministry of Women, Children and Senior Citizens, Ministry of Labour, Employment and Social Security and government agencies have adequate evidence to amend Trafficking In-Persons (TIP) related national acts and policies to align with the Protocol at the federal, provincial, and local levels.

Recently, the Prevention of Human Trafficking Through Strengthened Legislation project worked with implementing partner Forum for Women, Law & Development (FWLD) to publish a gap analysis report on the possible amendments in laws relating to Human Trafficking. Nepal’s National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) endorsed the document. The project also developed three infographic videos – Introduction of Palermo Protocol, Implementation of Palermo Protocol Post its Ratification in Nepal, and Legal Provisions against Human Trafficking and Transportation. Through FWLD, the project conducted 15 one-on-one pre-amendment consultations with the local level government in 12 municipalities and rural municipalities. These local-level consultations entailed informing the participants of the gaps in the current legislation, the Palermo Protocol, and the local-level government’s role in the Protocol’s harmonization. As a result, the project successfully developed Acts that define the scope of a rehabilitation center for TIP survivors in three municipalities: Shivapuri Rural Municipality – Bagmati Province, Bhadrapur Municipality – Koshi Province, and Safebagar Municipality, Sudurpaschim Province through the consultations. The Acts legally strengthened local-level governments in the three municipalities to identify and combat Human Trafficking and to protect TIP survivors through rehabilitation.

Building on the success of the local-level consultations, the project’s implementing partners, the Municipal Association of Nepal (MuAN) and the National Association of Rural Municipalities in Nepal (NARMIN), convened local-level government representatives from all seven provinces of Nepal for a workshop on June 2, 2024. This workshop served as a platform to conclude the local-level consultations, discuss international and Nepal’s federal government’s commitments against Human Trafficking and Transportation, and analyze the fiscal year budget for local-level planning as the government cut off the equalization grant to local governments.

The equalization grant is a disbursement of funds from the federal to local level governments that affect the local-level planning process. The cut-off impacted the local level’s ability to implement planned development initiatives. This workshop compelled the local level governments and organizational decision-makers to consider that strengthened legislation with the engagement of all three tiers of the government (Federal, Provincial, and Local levels) can address the challenges of Human Trafficking and how the equalization grant cut-off disrupted planning and execution of local level development initiatives to meet the unfunded mandates and human rights commitment. Participants shared their collective experiences and knowledge, opening avenues for collaboration to address emerging challenges in TIP and Nepal’s fiscal federalism.

Related locations: Nepal
Related programs: Good Governance, Women's Empowerment and Gender Equality

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